A firm but quiet start to the week with the usual blob of green concentrated on the Financial Services companies and the banks in particular. Westpac Banking (A$33.12, +1.7%) led the way higher and we will get to see the colour of their money on Friday whilst Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (A$30.10, +0.7%) report tomorrow. Despite no huge leads to go on overnight the market sprinted out of the blocks before settling down and slipping slightly. As always Telstra (A$4.93, +0.2%) was firm as were the W’s. Wesfarmers (A$43.21, +0.6%), Woolworths (A$36.51, +0.3%) and Woodside Petroleum (A$38.55, +0.3%) which goes Ex special dividend tomorrow. In other defensive sectors ResMed Inc. (A$4.59, +2.9%) resumed their rise after the results were digested and CSL (A$62.84, +1.5%) were once again strong.

Property trusts were mixed but the standout was Stockland (A$3.86, +1.8%) with Mirvac Group (A$1.73, +1.17%) following behind but others like Dexus Property Group (A$1.135, +0.4%), Commonwealth Property Office Fund (A$1.155, -0.9%) and Investa Office Fund (A$3.22, unch).

Resources were weaker as per SOP(standard operating procedure). BHP Billiton (A$32.54, -0.1%), RIO Tinto (A$55.36, -0.8%) and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd (A$3.50, -2.0%) were the worse of the big ones while stocks like Sandfire Resources NL (A$5.68, -4.7%) also came in for selling pressure.

In media stocks APN News & Media (A$0.395, +3.9%) was a standout as it continues its recovery, Ten Network (A$0.31, +1.6%) seems to be benefiting from moves on its Cricket programming. Looks like they may get the rights to televise the Big Bucket of Fried Chicken games!

Mining services remain a challenging space .Bradken (A$5.04, -0.2%), Coffey International (A$0.24, -9.4%), Austin Engineering (A$5.09, -5.4%), Ausdrill (A$1.60, -2.7%) and Macmahon (A$0.18, unch) all losing ground again. Golds were again awful with Kingsgate Consolidated (A$2.27, -15.3%) leading the sector down, followed by Silver Lake Resources (A$1.14, -8.1%), Regis Resources (A$3.72, -2.9%)Evolution Mining (A$0.985, -1.0%) and Sihayo Gold (A$0.085, -5.6%). This is a horrible sector to be in. When the Gold price was hot they underperformed and now the Gold price has fallen they are being slaughtered. Industry problems of high costs and problems with production are widespread. To paraphrase Auden, “We thought that price would last for ever: we were wrong.”

Volume was pretty pathetic today as large investors and their computers waited to see the first of the Bank results and some US and Chinese data due this week.

Stocks in the News

In house stocks Roc Oil Company (A$0.45, +9.8%) showed they were not stuck in a hard place with its quarterly activities report pleasing the market. Overall production up 4% and no new guidance, so no new news is good news.

Aquila Resources (A$1.805, -11.1%) were one of the worst performers today after announcing that their Queensland Coal JV with Sumitomo was not proceeding.

In other Canines today Kingsgate Consolidated (A$2.27, -15.3%) continued their run down towards 2 bucks as their quarterly presentation failed to inspire. Yet another one with rising costs and low production. Rising currency issues and higher maintenance costs. Their last presentation was titled ‘Building Shareholder Value’. Think they might need to rethink that one!

Oil and gas explorer Drillsearch Energy (A$1.19, unch) will raise up to $US125 million ($122.09 million) through a bond issue to pay down debt.

In the now “not so big Aussie” the sale of the Pinto Valley mine and an associated rail asset has yielded $US650 million ($632 million) for BHP, which is trying to free up cash by offloading as many non-core assets as possible.

Official Chinese PMI number revealed on Wednesday.

Books being cooked as we speak!

Talking of which the Budget is due soon and will reveal the gaping hole in the tax take due to lower corporate profits. We have even had Tony Abbott, the King across the water, talking about increasing GST. If the States agree that is. He can blame them then!

Tomorrows New Today

Local focus will be on ANZ in the morning and the dividend in particular .Expect to see lower bad debts and cost cutting benefits coming through .Headline growth will be not too flash but steady .These are just huge money machines paying investors handsomely to be there. Expect around $3.1 bn and a div of around 68 cents.

In Zombie news, Italy has a new PM, a close run thing on a political assassination, Greece has voted to sack 15,000 more public servants at the end of 2014.No hurry then! And apparently Austerity does not work..6.1m unemployed Spaniards can’t be wrong.. Add the 3.2m Frenchmen 2.6 Brits and lets not even talk Portugal and Greece! And the young unemployed is even scarier…

Can’t wait to see the Italian economic plan from the new PM who has done a deal with Bungasconi.. one thing is sure there will be money for Bunga Bunga! Austerity.. Letta see!

And Clive Palmer, who is just a fatter version of London’s Boris Johnson, is restarting the United Australia Party, the precursor of the main Liberal Party, to contest 150 seats in the federal election. Should be good for a laugh! Maybe they can have their party conference on his new boat the Titanic!

The Bank of Japan (BoJ) has raised its forecast for both economic growth and inflation this year in its twice yearly report. The BoJ now estimates growth for the year from March to March of 2.9%, up from its previous forecast of 2.3%.Of equal interest was its forecast for inflation, which it lifted to 0.7% from 0.4%.